What is Kum Nye?

Tarthang Tulku

As a young boy, I grew up in the Nyingma tradition (nyingma, meaning “ancient ones”, is the oldest of the four Tibetan Buddhist traditions) in Eastern Tibet. My father was a physician and a lama, and it was he who first introduced me to Kum Nye. However, Kum Nye was not well known in Tibet and was most often practiced as an adjunct to other practices. My gurus sometimes taught the basic theory and practice of Kum Nye as a preparatory practice for meditation. However, until now Kum Nye has had no systematized body of written instructions and, consequently, my practice of Kum Nye has always had a distinct flavor of exploration and experimentation. blockquote_right

– Tarthang Tulku, Kum Nye -A Tibetan Yoga

Tarthang Tulku

Tibetan Lama Tarthang Tulku introduced Kum Nye to the West in the early 1970s, shaping it specifically to relieve the tension and stress of the modern life style. He is the author of two dozen books, including Kum Nye Tibetan YogaThe Joy of BeingGesture of BalanceSkillful MeansMilking the Painted Cow; and Time, Space and Knowledge.


Introduction to Kum Nye

Senior instructor Arnaud Maitland shares some key points about Kum Nye.

Benefits of Kum Nye

Based on a traditional healing system, Kum Nye Yoga helps to relieve stress, transform negative patterns and promote balance and health. The practice of Kum Nye increases our enjoyment and appreciation of life.

The unique value of this Tibetan healing system is that it integrates the physical and psychological approaches to wellbeing, teaching us to integrate body and mind in all our activities. Kum Nye leads to a sense of vitality and wellness beyond what can be experienced in other physical systems of exercise. Its postures and movements, as well as its self-massage and breathing practices relax the body, calm the breath and still the mind, making Kum Nye an effective practice for deepening meditation.

Kum Nye Yoga introduces us to the power and beauty of the spiritual path. Based on Tibetan teachings for living in harmony with physical and universal laws, this practice develops our ability to heal and energize our entire being. Kum Nye Yoga teaches us what it means to just be.

Meanings of Kum Nye in the three books

– Kum Nye – A Tibetan Yoga:

Kum (sKu) means body, existence, how to become embodied. In Tibetan, lu means our ordinary body; sKu a higher, more subtle body.

Nye (mNye) means massage or interaction. In Kum Nye, we activate the sKu, stimulating feeling, which is the Nye.

Yoga refers to ‘integration’; with Kum Nye Tibetan Yoga the energies of body, mind, senses, breath, and heart become integrated and we will experience wellness and wholeness.

– The Joy of Being:

Kum refers to the body, in the sense of embodied being. Its significance goes beyond our physical form to encompass all aspects of our being and ways we can develop and nurture ourselves as embodiments of authentic existence.

Nye means massage, or exercise that heals, integrates, and invigorates.

Together, the words Kum Nye refer to massage, postures, and exercises that enable us to be comfortable in our embodiment and inspired to awaken the full capacities of body and mind, senses and heart.

– Kum Nye Dancing:

Kum Nye is often translated as “body massage”. But Kum means more than the physical body; it means substance, matter, manifestation. Nye can mean “massage” but it also means wise usage, the action of tending and tuning. Nye brings out the best in Kum, allowing it to develop into beauty.

Kum (sKu) is body, a nexus of sensitivity; Nye (mNye) is a method of exercise that brings results- through Nye, the body experience is transmuted. The result of Nye is a floating quality sometimes called bliss- but this experience in truth has no name. It cannot be defined by the framework or structure of language

This is Kum Nye as friendship: Kum means body or substance, and Nye means a process that encourages a friendly co-existence. Yogic practice helps us join the ongoing conversation in a new way; we can see it as the art of making friendship with all experience.

Kum Nye practice

Kum Nye practices include stillness, movement, postures, breathing exercises, self-massage and a little bit of visualization. The practices address the three kinds of tension held in the body – superficial tensions, blockages in the energy channels, and knots in the chakras.  As these tensions melt life’s energies begin to flow more completely through the body. In the process the flowing of energy “washes” the filters in the senses, and we begin to sense more purely again instead of filtering experience through thoughts and memories. Thus, Kum Nye is both a healing practice and an exquisite preparation for establishing and sustaining internal calmness and clarity, the basis for samatha and vipassana practice. Kum Nye establishes a sense of wholeness in which it is easy to detect calmness. When we enter the calmness, meditation begins.

Through Kum Nye yoga we are rebuilding the inner architecture of our subtle body energy system.

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